Growers are asked to pay particular attention to the safe use of winches on their farms. In the shelf system, the compost is pulled on the black winding Tencate Nicolon net which carries up to 5 tonnes of compost. On top of this net is a light polythene sheet to keep the net as clean as possible and to keep heat in the compost in winter. In the summer a perforated version is used for cooling the compost.
Filling the compost
The filling winch is set up at the opposite end of the shelf to emptying and pulls in the net, sheet and compost the full length of the shelf with two wire ropes. There is a safety cage on this roller winch. The main danger is fraying ropes pulling in 5 tonnes of compost.
Emptying the compost
At every shelf, the new net and polythene sheet have to be started on the roller - three problems can arise:
1: The black winding net is attached by a steel bar to the roller and needs a few turns with hands on the roller to start turning. The temptation is to use the motor to do the few first turns needed while settling the net with both hands on the roller. This is dangerous.
2: The main problem occurs with the light polythene sheet, it appears after a few turns of the motor-powered roller. Sometimes it does no wind itself on the roller and falls down. It then has to be manually started on the roller with a hand wind around. This is extremely dangerous.
3: Less often, the black winding net is not square on the roller at the start and a fold at the edge occurs. This could be wrongly solved by a hand pull. Again, this is extremely dangerous.
Proposed solutions to emptying problems:
1: The winch motor must be switched off while adjusting the nets on the roller.
2: a new positive pedestal switch should be fitted to the winch motor so that the motor only works if the switch is kept pressed by hand. Thus when the operator releases the switch to wind on the polythene sheet, the motor immediately stops and handling can be safely done.
3: Growers must insist that emptying workers operate the switch by continuous hand pressure.
Source: Teagasc: The<b> Teagasc Advisory Newsletter July 2011</b>